What Does A Massage Therapist Do?
"I’m trying to figure out what career I want after school, and I am interested in massage therapy. I have had a few massages at spas before, and I found them very relaxing and enjoyable, and the spa work environment really appeals to me. I’d like to be able to help people relax. I know what a massage therapist does in a general sort of way, but I am really curious, is there actually a medical benefit to a massage? What do massage therapists do for patients in terms of their health? I notice insurance companies don’t usually cover massage, but I always thought massage can help people with injuries and such. If I went into this profession, would I just be helping patients relax, or would I also be helping them to recover from injuries?"
asked by Alex from Denver, CO
Studies have actually demonstrated that massage is effective in treating a number of different health conditions. These include fibromyalgia, headaches, back pain and other muscle problems, myofascial pain syndrome, soft tissue strains and sprains, nerve pain problems, issues with bone alignment, anxiety, digestive disorders, and more. Massage can be helpful in treating both acute and chronic conditions.
Massage therapists are able to loosen up tissue which becomes tight and constricted. This helps to restore healthy blood flow through your muscles, which can remove toxins and bring in a fresh supply of oxygen. This improves the health of your muscle tissue and can reduce pain.
Deep massage can target the deeper layers of your muscles and help restore mobility after an injury. On your own, it can be difficult or impossible to mobilize these areas. Trigger point massage helps to loosen up tight bundles of muscle fibers which can cause pain. You may be used to thinking of these as “muscle knots.”
Massage therapy not only can treat existing conditions, but can also prevent injuries. Many athletes for example not only get massage treatments for their existing injuries, but also to keep themselves limber and prevent future injuries. A massage just prior to a sporting event is a common tactic.
People who have alignment problems will get a massage to help mobilize muscle as well as bone, and may see a massage therapist in conjunction with a chiropractor to treat the misalignment. Keeping muscles loose makes them less likely to tug bones back out of place.
So yes, massage therapists do a lot for patients in terms of actual health, and can make a substantial difference in terms of quality of life. While part of your job as a massage therapist is to help your patients relax, another part of your job entails treating actual medical problems.
While Western medicine still does not recognize the efficacy of massage therapy in full, many more patients are becoming aware of the benefits of these treatments. The entry barriers to this field are not necessarily that high in terms of education and certification, so look into it. This may well be the perfect career for you if you enjoy working with others and making a real difference.